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    How can organisations achieve the sort of deep and sustainable fan engagement that builds a captivated audience and maximises value for sponsors? As GlobalSportsJobs CEO Will Lloyd states: "The answer, as so often these days, is data." Here we offer an insight into how to harness the power of data to boost fan engagement.

    Knowing who your customers are and what they want: it sounds simple, but that is the essence of data’s huge importance to sports organisations in the digital age.

    Data is now the fulcrum of customer acquisition, retention and growth at the most sophisticated sports organisations.

    It’s essential to fan engagement, as building up detailed knowledge of each customer provides a solid basis for communicating with them – and marketing to them – effectively.

    It’s no longer good enough for organisations to think they know what their customers want. They need to know precisely what they want and provide them with it. For that, they need data.

    For sponsors, customer data is a goldmine. They are, after all, paying a rights-holder to target their fanbase and ultimately improve their business. Customer data enables them to do exactly that in a targeted and measurable way.

    One of the industry-leading organisations in helping sports organisations leverage this data is Two Circles . In just six years they have built a client base that includes leading governing bodies, leagues and top-level football, cricket and rugby union clubs, both in the UK and internationally.

    Their recent partnership with European Professional Club Rugby, organisers of the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, is just one example.

    “It is more important than ever to understand who our fans are and how they want to engage with us,” commented Ian Treseder, Marketing and Commercial Manager at EPCR. “Our partnership with Two Circles will provide us with this insight and help us market more effectively in a way that benefits our fans, as well as ECPR.”

    The sports industry’s drive to engage with, and collect data from fans through multiple touch points has led to a need to recruit a more diverse workforce from beyond sport's traditional talent pool. GlobalSportsJobs is reaching out to graduates from specialised analytical courses at the likes of the University of Warwick and Loughborough University London . Two Circles are also looking to attract graduates from a wide variety of backgrounds to join them through their Two Circles Academy initiative.

    So how do clubs, leagues and federations collect fans’ data? Captivating content is a fundamental pillar.

    The ‘Team GB Club’, for example, saw over 140,000 fans sign up to for membership of the British Olympic Association’s exclusive content hub ahead of the Rio Olympics, which included behind-the-scenes athlete access, video clips and live event coverage.

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    That content’s success as a fan engagement tool brought access to members’ personal and behavioural data, allowing Team GB’s commercial partners to provide each of them with segmented, bespoke marketing messages. During the Games, four million emails were sent to Team GB Club members, with a satisfying 20% open rate.

    A more direct approach was taken to harvesting data and adding sponsor value via an online quiz called “What kind of Olympian are you?” After answering a sequence of questions, users were told which Olympic sport they were most suited to. 96,500 people completed the quiz, with 26,500 of those visiting the website of partner Fitness First thereafter. A quick, fun, highly shareable piece of content brought instant sponsor value and added customer insight to the database.

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    Each new piece of captivating, personalised content across a variety of touch points will inspire more interactions from each fan, constantly building a better quantitative and qualitative profile of them as individuals. That provides ongoing opportunities to continue to engage with each person in a more meaningful and profitable way. It’s clear that organisations that aren’t seizing data’s potential risk being left behind.

    For opportunities in data and analytics in the sports industry, head to GlobalSportsJobs latest vacancies and create an account today and stay up to date with all the latest industry knowledge, events and jobs in sport.

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